Cafe Rio Copycat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

CATEGORIES: Latin, Salad Dressings, Sara

If you’re looking for the perfect Cafe Rio Copycat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing, look no further. This is the place.

Cafe Rio Copy Cat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing from Our Best Bites

There are millions of recipes out there for this type of thing and a lot of the good ones call for fresh tomatillos. However, after experimenting quite a bit, I decided, in this instance, I didn’t like the fresh tomatillos. For one thing it’s not something I have laying around my kitchen on a regular basis, so I have to plan in advance to buy them. Then I didn’t like the weird, watery texture they added to the dressing. So I started using a much easier substitution: green salsa.

Green salsa in Cafe Rio Copy Cat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing from Our Best Bites

Green salsa is made primarily from tomatillos and other things like jalapeños, limes, garlic…basically, some of my favorite things. And it’s different than “green sauce” like Pace for example. Make sure to check the ingredient list and see that tomatillos are listed as the top ingredient. We love La Victoria, but there are a lot of really awesome green salsas now that weren’t around 10 years ago when we originally wrote this post. You can also make your own–we have one for fresh tomatillo salsa and another for roasted tomatillo salsa, so if you’re feeling ambitious, this might be the way to go. I always have green salsa lying around, so I can whip up this dressing any time the craving comes along. And it comes along often!

This really only takes about 60 seconds to make, and then allow for a bit of time for it to set up.  Just pop everything in a blender!. (I’m using my Blendtec for this. If you’re in the market for a new blender, we are both hugely loyal Blendtec fans!)

You’re going to need a 1-ounce packet of Ranch dressing (Hidden Valley is super easy, but if there’s a brand you love, you’re free to use that), buttermilk, mayonnaise (light is fine), your favorite hot sauce, and green salsa.

Ingredients for Cafe Rio Copy Cat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing from Our Best Bites

You’ll also need cilantro, 1-2 fresh limes, and some fresh garlic.

Fresh ingredients for Cafe Rio Copy Cat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing from Our Best Bites

Place the dressing mix, buttermilk, mayo,

Adding buttermilk to Cafe Rio Copy Cat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing from Our Best Bites

green salsa, lime juice,

Adding lime to Cafe Rio Copy Cat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing from Our Best Bites

and garlic in the jar of the blender. Blend until well combined. Add in the cilantro and pulse a few times or until the cilantro is mixed well into the dressing. Season with hot sauce to taste. If desired, you can thin out the dressing a little with milk or buttermilk until the desired consistency is reached.

It’s obviously awesome on salads, and also as a dip for things like chicken fingers, veggies and steak fries.  If you’re making our Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos, this is pretty much required to go along with them.

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Cafe Rio Copycat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing


This Cafe Rio Copycat Creamy Tomatillo Dressing is a tangy, flavorful must-have for all sorts of Mexican food! From salads to taquitos to everything in between, this dressing (made from fridge and pantry staples) will become a favorite!


1-ounce package ranch dressing mix (ignore directions on package
1 cup mayonnaise (light is fine)
1/2 cup buttermilk (plus more if necessary to thin out the dressing)
12 limes (enough for 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup green salsa
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Hot sauce, to taste


Place buttermilk, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, and ranch mix in a blender. Add the garlic and cilantro and blend until smooth. Add the cilantro and pulse until the cilantro is well combined. Add hot sauce to taste. Chill for several hours before serving (if possible.)

If you love Cafe Rio/Costa Vida-type salads, you’ve got all of the ingredients to make an Our Best Bites version right here. Start with a fresh homemade tortilla, layer on some lime-cilantro rice (pineapple optional) and black beans, then some crispy romaine lettuce. Top with either taco chicken or lime-chili steak, some fresh Pico de Gallo and guacamole and fried tortilla strips for the big finish. Smother it in this salad dressing or this vinaigrette and you’ve got a salad ready to send you to food heaven!

*Disclaimer: this post includes affiliate links.


  1. I’ve made the dressing with tomatillos and love it, but this does look much easier.

    I’m making 20 pounds of Bajio chicken for a RS dinner tomorrow, so I might just have to buy some of that green salsa-thanks for the idea!

  2. I love this dressing at Cafe Rio and have tried other versions of the recipe. I like the substitution you made with the salsa and no tomatillos – can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

  3. Mmmmmmmm I LOVE this dressing. Word to the wise… don’t bother trying to make it with light mayo… it RUINS it!
    I love it on salads and as a dipping sauce for flank steak… YUM!

  4. Thanks for posting that you use green salsa instead of tomatillos- I’m in a part of the world where there seems to be no tomatillos, so yay- now I can make this dressing!

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